We find ourselves at end of April and that means a lot of things, and one of those things is that it's time to take the pulse of the fanbase yet again. Specifically, it's time to find out how you feel about the job General Manager Dave Dombrowski is doing. The last time we checked in, Dombrowski registered a 63% approval rating a month after posting an 82% rating. The decline in fan perception was likely the result of - well, no one really knows. Spring training is a frustrating month, I guess.
This may seem like an odd time to gauge the approval of the General Manager, as the team hasn't made any actual transactions since our last poll (with the exception of bringing back right-handed reliever Luke Putkonen on a minor-league contract), and the season is far too young to draw any conclusions. However, we do have a lot more data about the effectiveness of Dombrowksi's offseason strategy.
In the first month of the season we've seen the Tigers exhibit both success and failure in every aspect of the game. The starting pitching has been better than most anticipated, but it has also featured total meltdowns from three of the four projected longterm starters (surprisingly, Alfredo Simon is the lone exception). The offense is still potent, ranking in the top four American League teams in each of the three triple-slash hitting stats, but has been held to two runs or fewer on seven separate occasions already.
One of Dombrowski's primary objectives over the winter appeared to be improving the squad's defense and base running abilities. While the Tigers have made their fair share of gaffes on the base paths -- especially in the recent series in Minnesota -- they're tied for third in stolen bases and have shown an obvious improvement in aggressiveness and ability on the bases. Meanwhile, the team's defense is unquestionably it's largest area of improvement. Led by Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias, and either Rajai Davis or Anthony Gose up the middle, the Tigers have turned one of their biggest weaknesses into one of their biggest strengths.
And that's every facet of a baseball team. We've covered it all, nothing else to talk about! OK, if we must mention it, the bullpen exists too. While this is the most well-rounded Tigers team in years, that balance has made the struggles of the relief corps stand out even more. But the bullpen is not without its own silver lining, as Joakim Soria has looked as dominant as any Tigers reliever in decades. On the other hand, every remaining member of the bullpen has an argument to be optioned to Triple-A, if not released entirely. Let's put it this way: the Tigers lost a 40-year-old pitcher to injury who posted a 4.81 ERA last year, and it made their bullpen worse.
But while the persistent failure of the bullpen is frustrating, it's only one piece of a bigger puzzle that has the Tigers sitting at 15-7 with a half-game lead over a red-hot Royals team that is bound to cool off. So in the grand scheme, how do you feel about Dave Dombrowski?